One special night: Arthur fireworks a spectacle

One special night: Arthur fireworks a spectacle

ARTHUR — If you're planning to take in one of the region's most raved-about fireworks shows tonight, a word to the wise:

Hurry.

"When nightfall comes, every side road and every country road for miles around will be full of cars," says Arthur Mayor Matt Bernius.

For one special day, his village of less than 2,300 will have a population several times bigger. The main event of the 17th Arthur Freedom Celebration — the fireworks spectacular — could draw 20,000-plus people to Amish country today, officials say.

What will they see when the fireworks start flying around 9:30 p.m. at Jurgens Park, just south of the high school?

"We are going to have something you won't find anywhere else: a wall of fire with fireballs," says Tim Singer, fireworks chairman of the Arthur Rotary Club, the event's sponsor.

"We also have the ultimate fireball — a gunpowder mixture that is shot out of a 250-gallon drum. It looks like a big mushroom cloud, and it goes about 300 feet in the air."

As usual, the village hired a professional pyrotechnics company — Central States Fireworks of Athens — to put on the show. It will last 24 minutes (no breaks), be timed to music (simulcast on the local FM radio station) and feature a few new twists ("specialty fireworks" that organizers vow have never been seen in central Illinois skies).

The build-up is almost as big as the show. Local veterans will serve as grand marshals of the 1 p.m. parade, and the popular "Rural Patriot" will ride again, carrying the American flag on horseback to get the evening extravaganza started.

"Come on down to Arthur and join us," Singer says. "You won't regret it."

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